A viral Facebook post narrating assault by the police during a routine traffic stop that took place in Chetpet on July 19th has sent shock waves across the city. Haroon Sait, the victim, spoke out about being slapped and beaten by the police as he refused their demand for a bribe. The sub-inspector in question has since been suspended after a departmental inquiry. Commissioner of Police A.K.Viswanathan called on Haroon at his residence and assured that such incidents will not take place in the future.
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This is, however, not the first instance of a major altercation between motorists and traffic police in the city this year. There was widespread condemnation of the conduct of the police after a video showing a traffic police assaulting a man who was pulled over for not wearing a helmet was widely circulated in April.
It is vital for motorists to be aware of their rights and responsibilities to ensure that traffic stops occur without incident.
Things to keep in mind during a traffic stop:
- Ensure that you are being pulled over by the competent authority. Traffic police must be in their uniform with name and buckle number clearly visible.
- Wearing of helmets is compulsory as per the order of the Madras High Court. Persons fined for not wearing a helmet will be issued a challan that is valid until midnight.
- Male traffic police must be accompanied by female traffic police to conduct vehicle searches on female drivers.
- The Government of Tamil Nadu has mandated that drivers carry the original driver’s licence at all times. Other documents that are mandatory are the Registration Certificate (RC) and insurance. However, there is no directive regarding carrying originals for these.
- Since May, 2018, the Chennai Police has adopted a cashless system for spot fines, with payment options including credit and debit cards, PayTM, payment using the QR code in the e-challan at corporation e-seva centers and courts and post offices. Payments for violations must not be made in cash during traffic stops. Challan must be issued for all spot fines.
- Fines over Rs 100 can be levied only by traffic police of the rank of sub-inspector or above.
- Drivers licence may be seized for a broad range of offences such as smoking while driving, using the phone, drunken driving and not stopping at a red light. A valid receipt must be issued by the police before seizing the licence.
- Traffic police may detain your vehicle if found to be driving or riding without valid licence, permit or registration. The detained vehicle will be handed over to the police officer in-charge of the nearest police station and will be kept under safe custody until a release order is issued.
- Offenders detained by the traffic police must be taken directly to the police station and produced before the magistrate within 24 hours of detention.
- If you are subject to harassment by the traffic police, a complaint can be filed against them by writing to their superiors detailing the incident.